Monthly Archives: March 2017




As soon as I learned how to read as a child I was hooked. Some of my most vivid childhood memories are from the summer days spent lounging alone among the flowers – the pinks and and rosemary plants at the back of the garden devouring the library books I had borrowed; fairy tales, mysteries, but particularly The One Thousand And One Arabian Nights which filled my young and febrile brain with intrigue, murder, and love.


Yet although my penchant for reading and literature has never waned, and I still love to get really absorbed and properly engrossed in a good book even now, unlike quite a lot of book lovers – the true bibliophiles who treasure their libraries and volumes as though they were part of their being and count them as their most important possessions – I rarely, personally, fetishize the books themselves.


Books loom large in my psyche as oppressors. They were quite often a cause of huge amounts of stress to me at university. More often than not it was a huge pain and inconvenience to have to read some giant French nineteenth century novel by the following Monday, some enormous tome like Stendhal’s Scarlet And Black, even cheating in English translation, which I almost always did because there just were not enough hours in the day to get through it in even in English;  to have to have read all of Dante’s immense and terrifying La Divina Commedia by a certain date ( I never managed to ), or to peruse countless, repetitive literarists’ critiques on some obscure poet that the library notwithstanding, time had probably forgotten.


For me, consequently, the feelings I have towards books and the book shelf are multi-layered and ambivalent. On the one hand I remember, and love, that sensation of finding, finally, that particular rare volume you were looking for and then clasping and nudging it firmly from the library shelf. The sense of private discovery as you open the pages and the scent of others’ lived and imaginary experience is released, the cellulose and lignin gradually breaking down over the decades and centuries releasing toluene, vanillin and benzaldehydes : the familiar and beloved papery smell that is full of places we’ll never go, the people we’ll never meet, the yearning and excitement of being a fellow human being and feeling the excitement, and intimacy, of another’s words.


At the same time, although I love and loved the privacy and beauty of losing myself in another’s vision – that feeling when time stops its usual march and you recede into a place that’s almost beyond it – the library, with its silence, concentration and conspicuous seriousness, is a place I can find quite exasperating and oppressive. Banned from the Modern Languages library for refusing to pay the absurd fines they had levied against me, I would sometimes be forced to stray into the English department to research Virginia Woolf or else, was compelled to use the towering and ominous University Library, so deeply Orwellian and oppressively imposing in its brown, steadfastly 1940’s ugliness.


Ironically, this dark and dungeon-like place was where I happened to first properly fall in love and achieve liberation, the place where I caught sight of my partner Duncan from from afar, almost a quarter of a century ago now. When I first saw him, in the library cafe where slouchers and hedonists went to avoid having to read any books, some kind of light went off in my head … ( who is that?)….. and soon, I also by chance happened to find myself sitting next to him at one of the reading desks one rainy, boring weekday. I was trying to get his attention by fidgeting about and coughing rather self-consciously,  but in those pained, furrow-browned rows of books and lamplit desks there was so much self-importance, pen-chewing contemplation and desire to look ‘intellectual ‘ going on that it was often difficult to have any real human contact with anyone at all, let alone catch their eye, and my romantic overtures got lost in a fog of paper, the smell of history, and hardback.


One day, stuck at my desk there, surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of books by literary critics analyzing the work of one particular writer, in their ‘own’ pedantically, masturbatory, astuter-than-thou academic posturing, I suddenly began to feel quite asphyxiated. The aridity of that life. The preciousness. The deadening rut of a life spent steadfastly on paper.  The lack of vitality, of juice, of lust, of air, and the whole place just suddenly overwhelmed my senses to the point that I grabbed my things, pelting out of there as fast as I could and, outrageously, but adrenalized and exhilarated as a nineteen year old youth could be, uprooted three magnificent and strong-smelling irises in the broadest of daylight that I had seen at the entrance of the building and started running for my life.


Thinking about it now, me elated and panting but out of breath and terrified in my room –  the flowers already slung in a vase with some water; the strange and hypnotic black and purple scent filling my room to my ecstacy, in some ways this episode is really quite emblematic and symbolic of my life. I love books, yes, but I infinitely prefer just living (and as it turned out, writing). Although I had the option of studying further – more years of being deadened in wooden, deathly environments, in truth I knew I couldn’t stand another moment of being shut up in another soul-deafening library. My impassioned playboy year spent in Rome during my third year at university had opened my eyes: I had LIVED, had had a solidly real and wonderful year in that magical place; had made so many friends and felt more truly alive than ever before, and the concept, now of my bowing my head down in bookish concentration for two or three more years, inhaling the smell of those dusty, fingerworn pages had no appeal to me whatsoever. In truth I was always, and am still, way way more excited by the scent of records; the sheen of fresh-pressed acetate and vinyl as you pull that brand new beauty from its sleeve and place it on the turntable to  lose yourself in dance and music ( not that I would ever need, I don’t think, that particular scent recreated for my body). In comparison, a library, despite its perhaps holding the key to many of the secrets to our existence that we need to unlock; the gifts of our most enlightened ancestors and predecessors: a calm and soothing place that can afford a whole lifetime of quiet pleasures…….to me, in truth, well a library is often nothing more than a claustrophobic, sonorous catacomb of silence and dead trees.





In this age of smartphone technology and glassed, odourless surfaces, in which we interact by screen and by mouseclick and not flesh to flesh; not in close proximity to each other, not smelling each other, not inhaling the words from an old book that rise up and connect you with the people who have come before you with the tactile scent of its paper, it is perhaps understandable that there should, now, be an olfactory trend of modern perfumes and candles that attempt to replicate that ambience.



And while I can relate to this fad on one level, the soothing scent of physical reality before everything became internet, I personally find all this rather ersatz and artificial, a tad Odorama, like those cinematic experiments in the fifties and sixties when the smell of bubblegum, or smoke, would be piped out at a particular moment in the program and the audience would gasp at the verisimilitude. Although I have on occasion enjoyed the odd scented candle or two – Diptyque’s Feu De Bois does a nice job of recreating that ‘rug by a winter’s fire’ vibe, for example, I personally don’t really need a ready made storyline; an ah, now I’m in a library.


Still, quite understandably, other people do seem to like a more literal smell to evoke feelings of concentration and single focusedness and an escape from the ambivalent, two dimensional world. And thus they bring the library to them: they wear an olfactory approximation of the library on their skin. They have fallen in love all over again with the smell of old books. A desire to ENTER the book itself. To reside within it. To light a different candle, in each room of your home, augment and distill this chilled and present librarian effect,  the binding and the covers and the translucence coming to life, in the air surrounding you, from S.T Apothecary’s Dead Writers; Oxford Library, Sherlock’s Study; Book Cellar to Trashy Romance Novel by Frostbeard, while dousing yourself liberally in Paperback by Demeter;  Paper Passion by Geza Schoen; or else, for the most intensively bookholic effect, In The Library by CB I Hate Perfume. For the truly maniacal committed reader, you can now, in perfume terms, practically bookworm yourself to death.


A more recent release – Bibliotheque, by Byredo, fortunately (for me at least) bravely avoids the standard, bibliophilic tropes that we are used to smelling in niche perfume and gives us instead what to me feels more like a trendy Stockholm book cafe hangout than a library; a place you can have coffee and something sweet and delicious while lounging on some wine red leather sofas and watch the world go by through the big, daylight- loving, ceiling-to-floor windows ( with the heating set very high on the coldest of days.)


A convincingly soft suede/ woody/ leather accord that definitely evokes a comfortable room and cosy space, Bibliotheque is infused with dense, plummy goodness, and an inspired thread of violet, taking the old Lutensian Bois et.. idea but intensifying it with the modern, Byredo style. Recognizably a perfume from this house ( the density and texture is quite similar to Black Saffron and Baudelaire and others in the range), this is snugger, more wearable, and conducive.


This retreat is a place you can just take your book and immerse yourself in it while alternating between daydreaming, watching the sky, and people watching. You can sink into not only the sofa, but yourself. While sipping on that piping cappuccino; lost in thought, and observation, and cloud watching, the warm woody scent rising up and solidifying any potential existentialist emptiness. And in a cafe, rather than a huge,  convoluted, labyrinthine library,  at least – whenever you want to – you can always more readily find the exit.


Filed under Flowers





D is often to be found scouring about in old curiosity shops, fleamarkets, and the recycle antiques, and came to the hospital via Kamakura the other day with a paper bag full of scented eclectica.

There is nothing like some unexpected perfumes to put a spring in a boy’s step  ( so to speak ), because even if I am still not quite ready for richness in perfume nor in food, I LOVE JUST having, and owning, them anyway.

Duncan liked Fragonard’s Reve Indien straight away when he smelled it at Strawberry Fields – the best boutique for cheap vintage perfumes in our vicinity – as did I ( for another time though – my belly still can’t quite stomach such warm richesse right now, even if I could immediately imagine it going straight on a cashmere scarf come December or January). This is one of those rich vanilla ambers that I am practically guaranteed to like and one that he likes on me as well – one that smells seamless, dense, smooth, and Shalimar-like. Cuddly. Sensual. Warm. I’m very much looking forward to its debut elsewhere – some extravagant other time.

Gianfranco Ferre Ferre would also be quite scandalous and out of place in a sterile hospital context. This is one of those mad, lipsticked Italianas I remember from the nineties ; a glammed-up, Monica Bellucci bombshell whose bottle was even shaped like a grenade and whose smell: sweet, heady, aldehydic, heavily floraled, glintily fruited, mightily musked and vanilla’d and sandalwooded, is about as overtly sexed as a glamorous sex siren can be. Proclamatory, gorgeous, you almost fear her.

The grave, almost archaically beautiful Je Reviens parfum, in that perfect, lunar blue bottle, couldn’t possibly be more different. I don’t have anything to say about this singularly saturnine creation that isn’t already in my review – has there ever been a more fascinating and melancholy perfume created ? – but in the drab confines of the hospital, such an object of beauty, and olfactory perfection ( I smelled it from the bottle and it was pristine), has real worth. Everything about Je Reviens to me is precious.

Of the four treasures pictured (  which came to a grand total of ¥2000, twenty dollars), the perfume I was most excited to receive of the cache, when I pulled it excitedly out of the bag, was probably the vintage (60’s?) bottle of the legendary Muguet De Bois, which I had read about many times before but never actually smelled. I was thrilled.

This Coty creation from 1916 was apparently loved by Roudnitska and was part of the inspiration that led to his creation of the lily of the valley to end all lily of the valleys, the great and indefatigable Diorissimo from 1956. Still, despite some obvious similarities in the source material – both being highly evocative of the actual flowers – the two perfumes are undeniably at opposite sides of the spectrum of simplicity and embellishment.

I have never disputed Diorissimo’s beauty. This perfume in fact once elicited one of the few hallucinatorily beautiful altered mind states I have had from perfume in this lifetime, when I smelled it unexpectedly on a Japanese girl in England one day and just sat near to her; hypnotized, at peace, synaesthetically dream-induced and marvelling not only at the olfactory complexity of the work of art she was wearing and all it conferred on what was already a mysterious aura, but also all the conflicting and perturbing impressions the scent bestowed; at once primordially innocent and pure : yet silently and somehow devilishly aware of her subtly carnal aroma simultaneously : that murmuring , softly putrescent, but carnal, underbelly.

She is extravagantly beautiful, Diorissimo. Ravished with a pure white genial plenitude. But at the same time there is also something strangely queasy, almost too zealous about the perfume to me most of the times I experience it; so trembling and frilly and pink and boronia jasmined….for me, despite its obvious magnificence, there is a barely suppressed hysteria at the heart of the perfume that ultimately turns up to eleven, what should have been set at nine.

Muguet Des Bois, in this vintage at least, is different. It is not the belles of the balls of May festooned in muguet and bonny curls, nor couture wearing Parisian madams self-consciously evincing spring, but rather quiet lily of the valley flowers themselves – just unfurled and nestling – breathing contentedly in the cool, green air of mayland woodland groves. This BREATHES.

I like it better. Muguet Des Bois is a perfectly balanced soliflore with tints of green foliage and a clear, clean soap-like finish that pleases (soapy’ as a descriptor is almost always seen as a pejorative by most perfumists, but for me, soap has never been a dirty word); persuasive; vernal; cool, and fresh.

Francois Coty obviously knew exactly what he was doing when he made this deceptively simple homage to these flowers. After washing my hands, here in my bed, spraying on the Muguet Des Bois takes me away from this room in my mind’s eye for a moment and I see nature; trees, grasses, and tiny white bells hiding in green undergrowth, subconsciously displaying their scent.

Bright; new.


Filed under Flowers

The greatest orange blossom neroli of all time?……….. Berber Blonde by Sana Jardin Paris ( 2017 )


When I came round I was in Hell. I was shouting and screaming. I didn’t know where I was. I couldn’t feel my legs; my right arm was in intense pain, and I couldn’t move it, either, from the six hours of tight pulsating blood pressure control it had been under in the operating theatre.

The lights in the corridors were ferociously blinding and disorienting as I was led back, blurring and jolting, to my room. Faces in masks whirled above me clamouring in Japanese, and then, suddenly, incomprehensible, assailing my drugged, tampered brain, there was the nauseating and overwhelming smell of No 19 parfum assaulting my senses from all angles – foreign, unwelcome : like a block of pure unwanted evil.

Screaming to get it away from me, get that smell oh god I need water so badly my mouth is so dry what have I done I’m going to die, why have you put 19 everywhere (he hadn’t: it was discharging from my carefully saturated bathrobe that was lurking hidden in the hospital drawer and emanating fumes- entirely my fault), but it couldn’t possibly at all have been more wrong in that situation; it just smelled poisonous.

I was in hell. I didn’t know what I had been expecting, but I hadn’t been expecting this. To be so pitiably helpless like a deformed, newborn child. And for my ‘legs’ – packed in ice packs and bandages and machine compressors- to feel so lifeless.


I wanted to disappear. I was shuddering from the shock of it. I didn’t know what I wanted : except water. Water. Water. Water. That was all I could think about, only water, but they told me kindly, but firmly, that I wasn’t allowed any more fluids for another torturous four hours.

This, unless you suffer from the same thing that I do, you won’t quite realize the impact of. The intolerableness. The unacceptability. Nobody understands, actually, except perhaps one friend of mine who feels somewhat similarly, but being deprived of water at any one time is literally unbearable for me, as is any situation in which I am denied water for even a moment. It is a fully fledged phobia, the depths of which only now I am realizing.

When I heard, from someone who had undergone a similar operation, that in some cases, in some hospitals ( or perhaps this is just how it used to be, I don’t know), no food or drink is allowed twenty four hours before an operation, despite the fact that I was becoming unable to walk through lack of cartilage, I was seriously considering cancelling it. Because it was impossible. There was honestly no way that I could have done it.

Then, other friends who have also been in hospital told me that the usual procedure before a major operation was nil by mouth after midnight- still utterly unfathomable as a doable thing on my part, and something I could never have complied with, no matter the consequences. If I was risking death, so be it.

I drink water during the night whenever I wake up ( often). I have bottles in my bag, in the classroom, on the bus, beside me at all times, wherever I am. I am never at any time without it. I CAN’T be without it.

As you will have realized from reading this, my obsession, my dehydrophobia, if that’s the name for it – -is exactly that : an irrational phobia of not having constant access to water even when you are not dehydrated………and realizing that when you are in this situation you succumb to an accelerating sensation of dryness and fear.

(or is it possible that I died of thirst in a former life?… who knows )

In any case, as the operation date approached, water, rather than pain, was my biggest anxiety. To me this is natural, normal, instinctive, but I could find almost no information on similar people when I looked into it further online.

I was surprised. I would have presumed that far more people, water being so essential, so crucial to our existence and well being, would have had a similar obsession. The fear of desiccation . Of dehydration. Of death by thirst. So much more all-consuming and murderous than hunger.

Yet while many articles discussing phobias naturally list hydrophobia ( a physically- derived symptom of rabies ) and aquaphobia ( a terror of actually physically being in the water ), no one seems to have mentioned its direct opposite: people like me, water lovers, who are aquaphilic in the extreme.

I love swimming in the open sea more than almost anything. live in the bath. have no fear of drowning ( at least it’s in water) or of diving off rocks into waves. Heaven.

I love liquids, hydration, warm, tropical rains, rivers, lakes, just staring down into the water, like Narcissus, himself, who was drowned in that treacherous pool in the forest but transformed, thereafter, into that shy but powerfully perfumed flower.

Water is the opposite of stasis, of inertia: it signifies life and the movement of the blood in our veins, the rain bringing newness and the annihilation of dryness – it IS life, so having even the mere possibility of having water taken away from me at any time: forbidden, disallowed, but then also being physically unable to reach out for it, is thus, essentially, my worst fear realized.

It is a fear that I can usually quite easily keep a lid on though – no one needed to know about it, really, until now. Because unlike, say, phobia of exposure to a particular kind of creature or person; or a terror of public vomiting or flowers or buttons – all much more commonly recognized phobias, in fact, than my own fear – no one would really have ever known about my own formidable anxiety about this issue until now because obviously, no has prevented ever really tried to prevent me from having water.

But how do you ignore doctors’ orders, when presumably those very rules that are in place in the majority of health facilities are there to protect your health, even your life?

The night before the operation I was told that I could drink fluids until 6.30am and this was quite surprising and blissful news for me, even if there was still the time until the surgery at 9.15 to be considered ( yes, I realize that I could have called to find out all this vital information in advance, but I was planning on having bottles secreted away in case I had to flout the rules and I was paranoid they would then be keeping an extra eye on me to make sure that I didn’t………..)

I managed to remain relatively calm, knowing what was going to soon be happening to me, all things considered, and I didn’t really even drink that high a volume of water I don’t think, at least as far as I can now remember. For me, anyway.

The night before, I had had a Skype conversation with an old flame of mine, Christopher Green, a well known comic performer and resident performance artist at the Royal College Of Art in London where he works as the Singing Hynotherapist. He is fully qualified, and practices, but given our history ( a three day fling at Cambridge in 1991, all very poetic and passion in the daffodils ) he said it probably wasn’t wise to have a real hypnotherapy session over Skype; you need to be treated in person. The trust needed to go under that way requires the energy of person to person interaction, and it shouldn’t be someone you have been involved with.

It helped, though, certainly: the visualization he suggested, the breathing practice, but it wasn’t enough. Although I had read about the dangers of combining water and anaesthetic, my anxiety level, by 6.31 am, was such that I had no possibility internally of stopping all fluids; kept sipping water, even drinking it normally, swallowing quite a lot, right up until the dreaded time I found myself dead man walking into the operating theatre, where I was strapped to the gurney in the middle of the room, stared down at by the Japanese medical team, ready for them to begin cutting and sawing at my leg bones….but all I could think about, aside noting all the people, the machines, the sound of my heart beat on the monitor, the pattern on the dull, glassed, ceiling, was WATER, WATER, I just can’t stand not having it, I can’t wait for the anaesthetic please give it me, and and so in pity they finally let me rinse my mouth with a side gargle tray – though I took undisguised sips as I was desperate for it, it was necessary for me to have it, could not not just spit all of it out, and then RIGHT BEFORE, just before the actual moment of surrender and I went under I begged them for another.

No more.



And they let me have one more final drink before my lights went out.

But then I woke up – what was actually six hours later but what felt like immediacy, and the all consuming need for hydration was so potent that it overwhelmed ALL other considerations, including whether I lived or died. But it was denied me.

Those first four hours after the operation were the worst of my life so far: queasy, paralyzed, in pain, dying for water and just trying to get through each interminable hour ( I could only get the mouthwashes, but they still were some mental salve as I was going in and out of consciousness….) until I reached the magical hour of 8pm when I could resume having water again.



Going into hospital I had initially, as you know, settled on No 19. My underwear is scented with it, which I like, because I have been stuck in the same position in bed for six days, but that outrageous bathrobe drenched in the parfum, the one that made me feel so sick when I was coming round, is just too much. What the hell had I been thinking? Strong tasting food and overwhelming odours become like anathema.

In the first days after the Trauma, though, as I began to gather myself and feel more human, I noticed how nice the nurses, both female and male, who were giving me round the clock care, were smelling. But thismight just have been the contrast with my own foetid squalor in the bed – caused by the shroud I was wrapped in with hot heating apparatus during the surgery and what I was carried in on as they brought me to the bed, drenched in panic sweat which seeped into the bed itself; I was changed into other hospital clothes two days later but god, the smell……although I like my skin smell and don’t think on the whole I have a particularly pernicious body odour, in concentration, like that, sickly and perspiring at my most perilous I would say the ooze I was emitting was a something like a pungent melange of warm, wet digestive biscuits and dead dogs with a pinch of nutmeg.

As for my mouth…….parched, lying there wide open for six hours in dehydration, well I am sure I would have won Top Honours at the Bad Breath Awards 2017. Uueuurgh. That taste….. it’s as if the day when you know your exhalations weren’t at their freshest – you know, that smell – that exact, dreaded scent were changed from a cologne fraiche to a double strength extrait de parfum; viscous and arid; but you can’t do anything but lie there like a bandaged open sewer and accept it.

In contrast to all this vileness emanating from my brutalized and sutured, dehydrated self, then, the fact that the staff all smelled so fresh and fragrant was an immediate boon. Not perfumed, as such, although one nurse, smelling as Atlas cedary as Serge Lutens Feminite Du Bois, told me that her scent was from products she had got at an onsen, or hotspring – perhaps something floral and hinoki, but every time her hair is anywhere in my vicinity as she is changing a drip or inserting an intravenous, I feel more alive.

Even my physiotherapist, the lovely, tiny, Ms Iikura (god, getting made to try and stand up- even supported by Duncan and her the day after the operation- and get into the wheelchair, to go to the rehabilitation room,….Christ the agony), smells cute and fresh as a daisy. I can’t identify what she is wearing – no doubt the hospital doesn’t allow any perfumes, it must be toiletries, or shampoo, but the gentle sweet cleanness of her scent, that perfectly matches her personality, is a much needed accompaniment to the excruciating challenges of that room.


My tastes are different in here. I thought I would be sickened by the meals, but in fact the light, healthy and very balanced Japanese food is just what I feel like, even things I ordinarily don’t enjoy, such as seaweed. Strong food, snacks, coffee, all just seem nightmarish at this stage. I am sure I will tire of it at some point ( edit: I already have):  the food is fresh and good to the point of saintliness, but in truth it’s exactly what I want. I have to feed the healing.

The same goes for my oils. Vetiver : no. So wrong. It just smells like exhaust engines and creosote. Frankincense : miserable, morose – horrible, actually, and ylang ylang just took me aback with its repellent, overfull yellow pink sweetness, and made me almost heave.

My Tasmanian lavender oil, however, was a godsend those first twenty four hours when I felt a regret that I have never before felt in this lifetime ( I just wanted to go back to how it was before…)

– a bright, purple, almost cassis -noted organically grown lavender that cleared the air of the room beautifully, changed it, and took away some of my worry. I could concentrate on that smell and imagine landscapes, feel less  confined to my body.


It is predominantly citrus, though, that I have wanted and have been using all the time here. The nurses are either beguiled or disturbed by it but I just sprinkle some bergamot here, some lemon there, just on towels and tissues to brighten things up, on my tongue, on my chest ( last night the male night nurse obviously had bronchitis, was feverish although he claimed otherwise – I could feel his hot fingers though, when he gave me the antibiotic injection and I wasn’t taking any chances; these essential oils not only smell beautiful, but they are germ killers as well, and right now, there could be no better essences. Bergamot, in particular, just clears the air, it relaxes me, it enlivens me, it just smells like a big giant aura of green orange happiness.)


By chance Duncan, one point on the third day of my stay here, sorting out what we had brought with us in our bags and putting the room in order, just took out, at random, one of the perfume sample bottles I had brought along to review in case I found myself in such a mood one day and……rejoice ! it just seemed so perfect for that particular moment that, suddenly mood-altered, immediately I began spraying it in tiny amounts on different parts of my pyjamas: sunshined: respirited, and elated.


As the press release from this new ‘ethical perfumer’ says ( and no, I don’t usually take these things seriously either, nor have even the slightest expectations any more from reading the purple prosed verbiage spewed up by pen-chewing copywriters, but this sample just winged its way across the ocean to me via a friend, and I like to keep an open mind) – Sana Jardin Paris, a new perfume house prioritizing sustainability and fair trade of all the jasmine, orange blossom, neroli and citrus oils used in the perfume grown in Morocco, is apparently designed to just smell like pure yellow happiness and sunshine in a bottle.

And the thing is, IT DOES.

This could of course simply be because of my current situation. Things I normally like, I am finding I don’t. And vice versa. So it’s quite possible that my ecstatic reaction to this scent that only smells of the orange blossom tree on a hot blue afternoon and just took me away from this immediate environment to somewhere happy, where I could walk freely among the orange groves  and just BE, is because of one of subjectively extreme experience, not intrinsic beauty.

Berber Blonde, a curious name for an orange blossom perfume but one I like, is all about the neroli and the orange blossom and nothing else, and I had in fact already been sampling on my skin before coming into hospital and already liked it. To me it just smells like  beams of sunlight: zinging, new – so blindingly optimistic when you first unlock the bottle, the future seems so bright that you’ve got to wear shades.

Some, who like the softer orange blossoms, many of which I also quite like myself and have written about here on The Black Narcissus, such as Mademoiselle and Petit Guerlain; Divin Enfant, Penhaligons Castile, Lorenzo Villoresi’s Dilmun or the sweet and lovely Eau Des Minimes Cologne Of Love, will perhaps find Berber Blonde too illuminated and lucid, though it is never as sharp and strong as Lutens  Fleurs D’Oranger, Gaultier’s Fragile, nor as citrussed and rasping as my own personal (and prior to this discovery, favourite) Annick Goutal’s Neroli cologne with its green and white on-the-bough realness.

No, Berber Blonde has a different, more psychologically lucent register.

You spray, you go; to a different place instantaneously, somewhere bright, and simple, and fragrant smelling;; just orange blossom buds and open flowers in some hot, imaginary place……..fresh, alive; breathing in sunlight, suspended above pools of bottomless clear blue water


Filed under Flowers

bionic narcissus


MY new legs.


i just can’t use them yet.


Filed under Flowers


but I can’t write, sorry






Filed under Flowers


Source: THE BELOVED (vol 1): CALECHE D’HERMES (1961) & ARPEGE DE LANVIN (1927)


Filed under Flowers

plum blossom




last walk around the block for quite some time

I have always loved the shape and scent of these classically springtime trees


Filed under Flowers